PUBLIC ADVOCATE WILLIAMS RESPONDS TO THE DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION'S MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS RESPONSE RECOMMENDATIONS
"In the yearlong delay since this report was set to be released- which still has not been seen by the public nor the task force members, even as its recommendations are implemented- the conversation around mental health crises has shifted in language and policy. We need to treat mental health crises as health emergencies, not criminal acts, as I laid out in my office's report last month. However, while these recommendations outline some policy shifts which I am glad the administration has agreed to, the focus and resources aimed at the NYPD, including a co-response model, is not the direction the city should be going toward in the long term. We need a non-police first response to mental health crises, and this plan does not even put us on a path toward that goal.
"We already ask too much of law enforcement, and a criminal response to a medical emergency only heightens the chance of tragedy and reduces the likelihood that those in need will call for help in the first place. A team of mental health responders, sent out by a dispatcher well-trained in recognizing mental health emergencies, from a newly designated emergency number, is the path forward, and I hope to continue to work with the administration toward these critical reforms."